Friday, 23 November 2018

The 2019 El Hogar team and friends and alumni have been awfully busy since September working on our fundraiser for El Hogar and to produce some very fine products for you this Christmas.  Our Gingerbread churches and houses, all hand decorated and each unique, are our popular sellers.  But then people love the chocolate bark and of course the beautiful note cards that our dear friend Marilyn Barnes produces for us each year.  All will be on sale at the St Luke's Christmas Market this year on December 1st (9 am to 2 pm) 
This particular table of decorated churches was after a productive afternoon with a number of people helping out.  

One of our new members, Mavis, has got the idea and is now very intent in her creative skills.  Looks like Alan is checking for ideas on how to do his decorating.  

Nan looks like she has enough candy to make her church very tempting for anyone!

Busy at work and each intense in their own creative world!!

 Before we can decorate, the structures have to be constructed.  So far, it is just our engineers who do that with preciseness and carefully putting together different size pieces in spite of the fact that in the rolling cutting and baking, we try to be exact. 

We had two groups with us this year, one from the Community Pathways Program from Bateman School who will take their decorated churches back for their school Christmas sale.  

Malene, an El Hogar friend who comes each year to help decorate, was able to bring two young colleagues from her business to spend an afternoon as part of the community volunteering program in their company (Wawanesa Mutual) that provides charitable support for programs in their community and they chose us!.  Thank you to our volunteers this year that have added to the dimensions of our project.  

To add to our Gingerbread, we also bring you our popular Christmas Bark back again this year!  With the thanks from our good friend and expert Chocolatier, Dr. Kerry Beal (, we were able to package up 350 bags of our famous Bark made with high quality Belgian chocolate.  

First is to make sure the chocolate is just at the right temperature.

Spread and cooled in a pan.  


And ready to go.  

Saturday, 3 March 2018

How fast the week went.  As we climbed into bed last night at 0230 after a long day of travel home, we realized a week ago that it was the same time that we had set our alarm to get up to catch our early morning plane. So much has happened in a week!

With a little later that usual morning departure from El Hogar to get to the airport, we had a good almost full morning of being on site to enjoy the clear morning air and enjoying the garden and looking over our work project!  Packing bags and checking out the last of the things that we wanted to leave behind.  More craft items and soccer balls etc.  We had time to take our traditional team photo. 

Amy and Alan have some relaxing time before the luggage is loaded. 

Because it is Friday, the kids are in class, but we had some time to say a few good-byes in between their classes.

Our friend Jefferson, who graduated about 10 years ago from Carpentry at the Technical school is now attending university and also works at El Hogar.  He does various jobs including looking after the front gate and now is refinishing some chairs.  He is another one of those EH success stories - given hope in a life that started out with everything going wrong in the beginning.  A wonderful young man. 

Life is easy for us to get to the airport.  Our luggage is loaded onto the big bus by Junior and Anebal who are high school age and live at El Hogar as they go to a nearby school.  They have been around all week and have helped out in many ways to make life easier for everyone at El Hogar.

The rest of the travel day was long but went well as we stopped over in Atlanta (with time enough for a good meal) before our last leg to Toronto.  We said goodbye to our Dave, as he headed to another terminal to head back to Kansas City. 

A few of us ended up chatting with some other passengers on our flights who were with other mission teams from various parts of North America.  This is what you find on those flights in and out of Tegucigalpa.  One team was medical team.  Another was a group that were building a new well in a remote town about three hours away.  We shared similar stories all with similar threads running through.  Our love for the people of Honduras and wanting to help where we can - being the hands and feet of Jesus.....

We all woke up this morning, without the sound barking dogs or of screeching traffic just outside our windows, but we certainly missed the sound of the children and to see their happy faces and feel their hugs as they greeted us when they saw us. 
We are still gathering pictures off all our various phones and cameras, so stay tuned for some more photos of the children and abit of life at El Hogar.  Also be sure to hear our presentation at the 10 a.m. service on March 18th. 

We take this trip to do what we can for El Hogar, but this is only part of this ministry.  You all help in your prayers and donations of all kinds and your encouragement and we couldn't do it without you.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

Friday, 2 March 2018


The Executive Director of the El Hogar Projects (who is from New Jersey and has been in the US for the past few weeks) is back in the country and today was his first full day in Honduras and so arrived at breakfast with us in his “Toronto” Argonaut football shirt! We figure that he has a shirt for every volunteers team that comes to Honduras. A Cincinnati shirt, Miami Dolphins, etc. It was great to talk with him and relate our experiences. This is a very busy time for him due to the changes that are happening here.

We had a great morning learning some of the history of Honduras at the Museum of National Identity with Ariel as our guide. The main exhibit covered the history of Honduras from pre-European times to the present (including the recent troubling re-election of the current president). Ariel had an amazing, frank, historical perspective of the missteps of governments from the 16th century. Unfortunately, first mistreatment of the indigenous peoples, and then corruption have been a common theme throughout. A significant event in the 19th C was misappropriation of funds that were meant to build a railway bridge across Honduras between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, with the result the railway was never completed, robbing the country of the benefits they would have gained if it had been completed. Then there followed the deals made with the banana companies that allowed most of the profits to leave the country, unlike in neighbouring countries. In the last century, the country suffered under the rule of various dictators, civilian and military.

We had time for a picture outside the museum before climbing back into the van.

On our way back from El Museo, we took a very long scenic drive through town including historic El Centro where Honduran life was in full view. Vendors in the street, bumper to bumper traffic with horns honking, cramming the narrow streets, people bustling about their business in the streets and the plazas.

After we got back to El Hogar, we had a few things to finish up. The men (and Amy) finished as much as they could on the work site putting in more fence posts around the new raised garden beds. Most of the soil has now arrived from the farm, which will be rich and perfect to grow the tomatoes and carrots and cucumbers, etc that will be used in the kitchen.

Nan, Ros and Janice helped Erika sort all the donated items that we brought down and we sorted them all into what location they would be going to – the technical school or the teen girls at Santa Lucia. Much of it stayed here at El Hogar. There were a lot of dental supplies and Doctora Nora was very pleased. She teaches the kids about flossing in her preventative instruction and preventative dental care, but has never, ever had enough dental floss to actually let the kids use it regularly and so was very happy with the 250 containers of it. We were also able to sort office, school and craft supplies and so hope that helps Erika in what can be a huge job with the wonderful donations that come this way.

Our last craft night brought all the kids out to enjoy some good craft time and we enjoyed being with them. So many of the things they made got gifted back to us and we were all touched that the kids wanted us to have them. We plan all sorts of different things for them to do, but they do love to simply paint and draw.  

In our last evening together as a team, we shared how we have felt about the week.  Most certainly we all fall in love with the children and in the whole experience of being in this place and see God's transforming love at work in the lives of the children and in our own.  We will never experience anything quite like it anywhere else.  We worked hard and  have a few sore muscles to prove it, but have worked as an amazing team together accomplishing alot as we share skills and talents.  We have come away with a better understanding of Honduras  and even when we feel despair for the people of this country with their dark history as we learned this morning at the museum, that there is hope for Honduras and these children with strong roots here.  

We have been packing up and can hardly believe it is home time tomorrow.  We will miss this place!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

This is our day to visit the Technical School, but first breakfast and already the kids are on their way to class.
We all climbed into the van and headed out of the city about 45 minutes to Amerateka where the school is located.  

The Technical School is the trade school for the children who have graduated from the elementary school and are looking to move onto the next step in education. The boys can get a diploma in welding, electricity or carpentry and many young graduates from this school have moved onto successful lives with their skills learned here. Because there have been changes in the organization, it means that all the boys that were at the Agricultural school are now at ITSM and grade 10 is now offered. This means that the number of students has grown at ITSM, and there are now 85 boys there. Lazaro, the Director was there to greet us and to take us on a tour. He has been part of the organization for nearly 40 years and is a truly dedicated teacher and mentor to each of these boys. When we suggested about what has been added to enlarging the student body – more staff, more food, more concerns, more kids to keep on top of, etc, Lazaro in his wisdom and kindness said “more smiling faces to look at”

. We got to see the kids in their workshops, including Rony who is sponsored by st Luke's


Wonderful to see a female profesora who teaches electrical courses.  Will the girls be far behind who are in the EL Hogar school system? 

We recognized alot of the boys from our stay last year and remembered as we were there why we enjoyed it so much – the beauty and the serenity of the place – and the good food!

Jose Angel, Moises and Cesar who have been at El Hogar, now taking electricity at ITSM and doing a computer assignment together.

 Of course, we can't leave without a most reverent and special moment in the chapel.  The mural is painted by a former student in 2010, over a period of a month.

The lovely chairs behind the altar were made by the students - and are metal!  They look amazing.

After lunch we headed back into the city to Villa Olimpica to see some of the kids in their sports classes and today it was Judo/Martial Arts, Ping Pong, Baseball. The park contains a number of stadiums, gymnasiums, tracks and swimming in a sports complex that was designed to serve as the city's main sports centre.  The kids love going to learn a skill and they were pretty good!

These children are waiting to start their Judo classes

There are several young girls who have become excellent at ping pong and it was wonderful to watch their skill and rhythm at the ping pong table.

Erika has been so good to take different routes any time she takes us somewhere so we are always seeing new parts of the city or the country. A wonderful way to learn about the country, its culture and people.

The main evening craft class was the Plasticine molding class and there were a number of girls who loved it.  The boys had to do extra chores tonight and so missed out on any activities we had!  

It has been another special day here.  

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Tuesday – Day 5

On our second day working, we finished our 18 post holes and got half of the posts for the fence concreted in place, but not before a hearty and typical Honduran breakfast of eggs bean, plantain and tortillas!  

Don Adrien, the senior maintenance person, showed us how to hand dig those holes.

and Junior, who was sponsored by a parishioner before he graduated 2 years ago, helped mix the concrete and run the wheel barrow to the posts. Junior is an excellent example of the fine young people that have graduated. He is continuing his education with university plans while working at El Hogar to support himself. He is doing well in school, is an accomplished soccer player and musician,
and has such a pleasant personality.

Another highlight was sitting in on a talk director Claudia had with all the children under a tree in front of the dining hall. She asked some of us to be part of the talk as she asked them about their dreams for the future. She got quite a list, from president of the country, to a fireman, pastor, policeman, doctor, soldier, and teacher. She encouraged them to work hard to achieve their dreams and asked about what the habits would be for these successful people. Did they work hard in school, learn to treat other people with respect, even eat with a knife and fork and not with their hands? The children were amazingly responsive, listened carefully, and there was a line of kids coming up to her for a hug afterwards. We realize this is so much more than a school.

Another evening of crafts and games with the children ended the day.

Monday, 26 February 2018


This was the start of the work week and so today the apparel was work clothes, sunscreen and hats. The kids were already gone to class and cleaned up in the dining room by the time we got to breakfast at 7:30. Our job this week is to put together raised garden beds with the idea of planting those things needed for the kitchen – vegetables and herbs. Some of the work had been started and so the team (i.e. Rick) was able to put together the plan and ideas Erika gave us to make it work for a team project. We cut lumber, dug post holes and worked the ground preparing for the soil which is to arrive from the farm tomorrow (maybe) and even got one of the other gardens cleaned up. It will be good to have the rains come to invigorate the gardens. There will be a fence go around the new raised garden, so those post holes had to be dug and with such hard ground, it was not an easy task!  Some of us learned how to use a pick axe for the first time and how to measures 8 ft board with a 6 ft tape, etc. Some required two supervisors to make sure the job got done right! The work area is right behind the volunteer house and so close to the coffee pot and the snacks!

Meanwhile life was going on around us. Workmen coming and going. Supplies arriving, the eggs and chickens from the farm, the children moving to and from their classes. One of the classrooms is close by the casa de voluntario and we could hear the sounds of the children answering the questions of the teacher, or their laughter in the class and it was all wonderful to hear.
Nan and Bob got their picture taken with Dr Nora, the resident dentist.  Donations of many dental supplies (toothbrushes, etc) came from their generous dentist.

We got as much done in the afternoon as we could and then had lots of time to plan our crafts for the evening. The auditorium where we usually do our crafts is now out of bounds as it is used as the music room, so we had to find spots all around the campus to make the thumbprint animals or the artistic banner or the paper bag puppets, by far the favourite craft of the night. We were spread out all over the place, but it worked out fine.

I am not sure who enjoyed the paper bag puppets the most!

 One sweet little girl just wanted to be off by herself playing with the dolls and was very happy.

We are not sure if this little guy got the laundry mixed up and got the tall guy's pants by mistake!

Another work day tomorrow.  The nights are cool and perfect for sleeping.